Bookstore Owner’s Siblings Come To Help
“I just feel very strongly that we are here to support our reading community, to get books into the right hands” are the words of book shop owner Carrie Wolfgang.
A first impression when one enters Novel Destination Used Book Emporium may be a feeling of welcome while wondering where all the books are kept. The first small room’s shelves are overflowing, but it may not be what was expected. You’ll soon be drawn in by sibling’s Carrie, Carol Lou or Kennie’s warm, friendly chit chat or drawn out of the place your mind has ventured that day. Whether a good day or a not so good day, it is the owner’s goal to make all who pass through the door feel they are special and valued.
If Kennie Campbell happens to be running the shop, he’ll greet you and then ask if you’ve been there before. If it is a first visit, he’ll offer “the nickel tour.”
“Don’t be afraid to pick up a book and when you do, five others will fall. Just leave them there. We’ll pick them up,” says the retired independent telephone contractor.
The aforementioned room holds large print, non-fiction, Christian and the owner’s special “private addiction” collection of Nordic Noire books, “darker mysteries that are hard to come by.” The second room on the tour has cozy mysteries and books by authors whose surnames start with A to J and the last room holds the authors whose last names start with K to Z as well as a selection of sci-fi books.
The visitor is free to sit on one of the many comfortable chairs found in these rooms or continue to the basement, which is the newest addition to the store.
At the foot of the stairs is a narrow floor to ceiling set of shelves that holds $1 books.
To the right of that area is the door to “the vault,” an area that is the “overstock of the overstock.” This room which is full of neatly labeled totes, is not open to visitors, with rare exceptions.
A long, well-lit, book-lined hall containing cookbooks, classics and more cozy mysteries, opens into a very large room.
“It’s a little book shop with a lot of hidden spaces,” says the tour guide.
As is found in all of the other rooms, there are rows upon rows of neatly displayed books on labeled shelves. The cavernous room contains more of what is kept on the ground level and young adult and audiobooks.
Campbell has supplied most of the six shelves and the overflow basket of audiobooks and claims he has more leftover from 40 years of traveling for his job. Ample seating is found in this room.
“Carrie estimates her inventory at 35,000. I think that’s low,” says her brother.
Novel Destination’s beginning happened after the owner had left her nursing job at Warren State Hospital to care for the trio’s ailing mother. One day after their mother’s passing and while the siblings, including their brother Bennie, were gathered in Jamestown, Ms. Wolfgang was about to take her resume to prospective employers.
“Bennie asked ‘Why are you turning in resumes? What about that book shop you always wanted? Now’s the time. If you open that bookshop, I’ll help you,” tells his sister. “He was the driving force. He sent me paper bags and books.”
The sister spent the summer at used book sales which enabled her to open her shop in the first small room. After showing the customers the books displayed, she would take a tray to the basement to retrieve a few more books.
Customers started sharing their stories with some returning, not because they were in search of a book, but to talk about a concern or to get an opinion. Some older men shared that they struggled with reading, so she moved young adult books to a less conspicuous area and labeled them YA. Some customers told her about health-related issue which caused the proprietor’s nurse’s instinct to kick in. A kit containing bandages, a blood pressure cuff and masks are now kept on hand.
“A well-supplied first aid kit,” says Kennie.
“I didn’t stop being a nurse,” says the sister. “I think we’ve called the ambulance four times since I’ve been here.”
She tells about the time a granddaughter brought her 80-something grandmother to the store.
“She was so excited when she saw the books that she was overcome with excitement and passed out.”
The shop owner called Bennie in Parkville, Missouri daily to keep him abreast of what she was doing at the small business and he visited several times each year.
“He sent boxes and boxes of books,” she says. He was an ardent history buff and I didn’t know if they would sell. We talked books and he would go to book signings. I would go with him when I visited him.”
Last year, when the brother’s health began to fail, his sister closed the store for ten days, took Scout, the book shop dog and went to Parkville. Sadly, he was given a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer so his sister returned to his side until his passing in January.
“He said he’d rather die alone in a nursing home than have me close the shop.”
Because they wanted their sister to stay by their brother’s side, Carol Lou Eisenhardt, who was also a retired nurse, and the local brother manned the store. Mr. Campbell installed lighting in areas of the basement where his sister had been using a flashlight and introduced the use of a ledger to the business.
Eventually, the other sister relocated to Jamestown from Normal, Illinois to continue her help and also because the siblings decided it would be best to be near one another should they fall ill like their brother had.
“I am so proud of my sister because of this mission. She does it because she loves books and to get them into the people’s hands,” says Carol Lou. “To my sister, this is not a business. It is her calling. This is her giving back to the community.”
“We want everyone in our community to feel welcome, supported and positive. We give hugs here,” says the businesswoman. “I have people tell me we are the only ones who touch them.”
While she was away from the store, she received letters telling her she hadn’t trained her new help properly because there were no hugs.
“That is why we have people come just to be in the shop. The shop makes them feel peaceful and welcome and they can go out the door able to handle the situation they get,” Eisenhardt adds.
“People take turns sitting in this chair to get feedback after they tell about their situations and they don’t know about my counseling background,” says the younger sister.
Her desire for books to be available to anyone wanting or needing them is so important that she has found various ways to make that possible. She has not increased prices since she opened eight years ago “because the community cannot afford more.” All adult books are priced at $3 and $5, with the exception of the $1 shelves, and children’s books are $2 and $4. She places special orders because many of her customers don’t use the internet or credit or debit cards. She often gives books that haven’t sold or of which she has an abundance to non-profit groups and to Little Free Libraries.
She sometimes leaves books in laundromats and at a summer lunch program. After a teacher with a student who was learning English expressed a need for books in the child’s home language, both Carol Lou and Bennie sought them.
“I can’t help everyone, but I try to help local first,” says the book lady.
It isn’t unusual for someone to call the store asking questions about the community and it is not uncommon for customers to ask the owner to relay a message to another customer.
“They leave prayer requests. When I first started, I felt like we had a church,” says the Emporium’s owner.
Flags printed with “open” and “welcome” are hung outside during store hours in case someone wants to stop to visit, but are often put up when the shopkeepers arrive early or go in during off hours. People who need to get away from their stress-filled jobs have been known to eat their lunch in the parking lot while watching the birds come and go from the feeders behind the business.
“I miss getting to tell Bennie about the excitement of the day,” says his sister.
If the books don’t bring you back, the warm hugs and candy may.
The following recipes were selected after the owner searched through her recipe boxes.
“In the Midwest, we called the Swedish Nut Cake Preacher’s Cake because it goes together quickly enough to be served for unexpected company.”
Being a family of German descent, many of which were farmers, making food stretch, but still satisfying the farm hands was the goal, especially during the Great Depression. Bread made with a single sausage tucked in the middle was often used to attain the goal. The juices from the meat flowed throughout the bread as it baked. The slices containing the meat were given to the working men, while the women and children got the meat-flavored ends.
Some cooks added a bit of baking soda to their dishes causing those they fed to consume enough to keep going but not ask for seconds.
“‘Their cooking markedly improved once times got better’ said our great-grandma, but she and her daughters did not do that to their family or workers. They came up with other ways to stretch their slim budgets. In our family, it was a sign of better times when less bread was used, everyone got a sausage or wiener of their own and the dough was sweetened and enriched like the recipe below.”
A patron of the store brings Mrs. Keeley’s Dog Biscuits to Scout.
Novel Destination Used Book Emporium is located at 177 Fluvanna Avenue. Hours are 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday. They do not buy books, but accept donations of good, clean ones.
Mrs. Collins Three O’ Clock Break
1 pkg German chocolate cake mix
1/3 c evaporated milk
1/2 c melted butter
2 c chocolate morsels
14 oz caramels, unwrapped (or caramel chips)
1/3 c evaporated milk
?Combine cake mix, evaporated milk and butter. Press half of the mixture into a lightly greased bottom of a 9-inch by 13-inch pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 6 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle chocolate morsels over the top. In a separate bowl, mix caramels with remaining milk until they are completely moistened. Pour caramel mixture over melting chocolate chips on cake. Spread remaining half of cake mixture over the top, patting gently until there are no large lumps. (There will be cracks and spots that aren’t completely covered, but the cooking process will fill them in. Caramel and chocolate will ooze in these areas. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until done. Cool before cutting.
Hunter’s Stew (Oven Stew)
2 lbs stew meat
1 qt canned tomatoes
1 T sugar
6 carrots, cut diagonally
3 medium potatoes, cut up
1/2 c celery, chopped
1 large onion, cut up
1 T garlic, chopped
3 T tapioca
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
1 slice white bread, cubed
Mix all ingredients in covered roaster pan or casserole. Bake at 325 degrees for 3 1/2 hours.
Swedish Nut Cake
2 c flour
2 c sugar
2 tsp baking soda
3 tsp vanilla
1 c walnuts, chopped
20 oz can crushed pineapple, juice included
Mix dry ingredients, except walnuts, in a bowl. Stir in wet ingredients. Once combined, stir in walnuts. Pour into greased 9-inch by 13-inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool before frosting.
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 c butter, room temperature
1 3/4 c powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 c walnuts, chopped
3 tsp vanilla
Combine cream cheese and butter with a mixer. Add powdered sugar, salt and vanilla. Mix thoroughly. Stir in walnuts or sprinkle over frosted cake.
Dad’s Favorite Way to
Eat Zucchini (Chocolate Cake)
1/2 c butter, softened
1/2 c oil
1 c white sugar
3/4 c brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c sour milk or buttermilk
2 1/2 c flour
1/2 c cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
3 c shredded zucchini
2 c chocolate morsels
1 c walnuts
Cream butter, oil and sugars together. Add eggs, vanilla and sour milk, blending thoroughly. In a separate bowl, sift flour, cocoa, soda, baking powder and spices. Blend dry ingredients into the creamed mixture. Stir in zucchini. Spoon mixture into a greased and floured 9-inch by 13-inch pan. Sprinkle chocolate morsels and nuts over top. Bake at 325 degrees for 35 minutes. Cool before cutting.
1/2 c celery, chopped
1/2 c onion, chopped
2 T olive oil
1/4 c your choice dried herbs
1/2 lb fresh crab meat
1 lb cooked small shrimp
1/2 lb real or chunk imitation lobster
1 can condensed cream of shrimp soup
1 can condensed cream of celery soup
1 1/2 c milk
1/4 c half and half or cream
1 c mayonnaise
16 oz wide egg noodles, cooked as directed for al dente
1 lb sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
6 oz French-fried onions
Cook celery and onions in olive oil over medium heat until they become soft. Toss in herbs, crab meat, shrimp and lobster and cook mixture until warmed through. In a separate bowl combine the soups, milk, half and half and mayonnaise until smooth. Stir in warmed seafood mixture and noodles. Spoon mixture into an ungreased 9-inch by 13-inch pan. Sprinkle cheese over top. Cover pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle French-fried onions over top. Bake 10 more minutes. Serve. (This can be assembled the day before, covered and refrigerated. Adjust baking time.)
1/2 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick plus a little more butter, room temperature
1 c lukewarm whole milk
2 large eggs, beaten, room temperature
1/4 c warm water
2 T sugar
1 pkg active dry yeast
3 1/2 c bread flour plus approx. 1 c more
16 all-beef hot dogs or sausages, patted dry, room temperature
Add 1/2 cup sugar, salt and 1/2 c butter to a large mixing bowl. Pour milk over and stir to mix. Set aside to cool. Beat eggs and then stir into milk mixture. Put warm water in a glass measuring cup and then sprinkle 2 T sugar over water. Sprinkle yeast over top of sugar. If this mixture foams, yeast is active and ready to use. If not, dump out and repeat with new yeast. Combine yeast mixture with warm milk mixture in bowl. Begin adding bread flour, a cup at a time, stirring and completely mixing adding more flour. Once 3 1/2 c have been added, the dough should be less sticky. Lightly flour work surface and hands. Form dough into ball and knead for 5-6 minutes or until more elastic and less sticky, adding a small amount of flour, as needed, while kneading. Place dough in lightly greased bowl. Brush top with melted butter. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place until dough has doubled. This could take up to 90 minutes, depending on temperature of room. Punch dough down. Divide into 16 equal parts. Stretch each part into a smooth oval of fairly equal thickness. Place a wiener in an oval of dough and wrap the dough around it, pinching both ends shut to be sure the wiener is fully enclosed. Grease pans (for 16 wieners, use a 9-inch by 13-inch and an 8-inch by 8-inch or 9-inch by 9-inch). Leave a little space between each allowing them to rise properly. Brush tops lightly with butter and place uncovered pans in a warm area to allow dough to double once again, approximately one hour. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Mrs. Keeley’s Dog Biscuits
1 c whole wheat flour
1 c quick oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 large mashed banana
1 tsp honey
1/2 c peanut butter
1 extra large egg, lightly beaten
1 T pumpkin puree
Using a paddle attachment on an electric mixer, combine dry ingredients. Add mashed banana, honey and peanut butter, mixing thoroughly. On low, add the egg. This should all form a sticky ball. Roll to about 1/2-inch thickness on floured surface. Cut dough with bone-shaped cookie cutter that has been dipped in flour. Lay on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Gather dough scraps, knead lightly together and then roll out to cut more dog biscuits. Bake in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown and dry/firm. These biscuits have no preservatives so should be eaten within 72 hours or refrigerated.